12.22.2011

A leadership excercise: What really changed for you this year?

Terry recently challenged his blog readers to really think about the change that's happened in the last year, as well as the source for each change. Here's the exact challenge:

Before we get to the year’s end, engage in this helpful and challenging leadership exercise: LIST ALL THE WAYS THAT YOU HAVE CHANGED THIS PAST YEAR. What is different about how you think, feel, act, and what you do, care about, or consider now that you didn’t in January. What routines do you engage now that weren’t a part of your life earlier? THEN LIST THE SOURCE THAT PROMPTED EACH CHANGE. Why is it that you’ve changed in each way?
He asked us to post our responses in his comment section, but given the year that I've had, I figured it'd be better suited as a blog post.

I learned to stand up for myself as a human being. /// In the past, I've let myself become a doormat for some people, thinking it was Biblical to let people walk all over me [let 'em hit one cheek, then let 'em hit the other!]. Not only did it hurt my perception of who God created me to be, but it made me feel like crap all the time. I finally realized that I needed to care about myself the way God cares about me when I saw God bring me to a place where I'm accepted and appreciated for who He created me to be, not harped on for who He didn't create me to be.

I learned how to be more independent. /// Moving 12 hours away from home will do that to a girl.

I rely on faith and hope more. /// In a situation where most would say all hope was lost, I stuck it out. I trusted God was going to do something because He promised He would. And He did. And every day I feel blessed because of it.

I'm more conscious of what I'm putting into my body [and I've learned to cook!]. /// A year ago this November, I was diagnosed with PTC, which basically means there's too much fluid around my brain, and it puts pressure on the brain and optic nerve. After having a pity party for a few months because of it, I finally started looking at what I was eating and how much junk was actually in it. Now, I tend to make a lot of my own food, which is pretty fun once you get the hang of it.

Those are the big ones. What about you? How has your life changed in the last year?

12.15.2011

Channel your inner Bartimaeus.

One of my favorite people in the Bible is Bartimaeus.

1. Coolest name ever. Super fun to say.
2. This kid is so incredibly determined. Nobody gets between him and Christ.

The disciples were walking down the street with Jesus, right after He's pulled them aside and said, "hey, here's what's about to happen. Things are about to get rough." Then the disciples battle it out in regards to who gets to sit next to Jesus in Heaven, which like... really guys? Your best friend is telling you, "hey, I'm about to really suffer here," and you're fighting over seats? Cool story, bros.

So all of that happens, and they're walking down the street, and it's loud. There's a "large crowd," and you know people were talking, carrying on. And Bartimaeus is sitting on the side of the road, totally blind, and hearing this whole commotion. Somehow, he picks up on the fact that Jesus is there, and Bartimaeus starts yelling for Him. Actually yelling. "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

Bartimaeus must have really been causing a scene, because the Bible says that everyone around him started "rebuking him." In other words, "Oh my gosh, Bartimaeus, SHUT UP. You are SO EMBARRASSING right now..." [that's the youth group translation, huh?] Does Bartimaeus shut up? Heck no! He starts yelling EVEN LOUDER. "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" He's persistent. He's so determined to get Jesus's attention, because Bartimaeus realizes that Jesus is the Son of God, that He's the only person on the planet who can help Bartimaeus see again. So Bartimaeus just goes for it, totally ignoring everything else around him.

Jesus hears Bartimaeus. Jesus heals Bartimaeus.

Faith and persistence helped Bartimaeus see the beauty around him. His determination turned darkness- the only thing he knew- into light. It totally changed his world.

We all have those Bartimaeus moments where we're sitting in the dust, unable to clearly see what's around us. But we can be encouraged that Jesus is able to walk into that situation, whatever it may be. And when molehills begin to pile up into mountains, when the world tells us that faith isn't enough, be persistent. Shout louder. Channel your inner Bartimaeus, for "this too shall pass." Your relationship with God will be much stronger as a result.

12.14.2011

Gifted

We're getting ready to jump into a series on Spiritual Gifts here in the new year, and we're doing a few soft launches before we go big. I just ran an inventory with our Senior High Sunday School class, and our Ministry Council [i.e. Administrative Council] is doing one before our meeting next week. I also tossed one on our church's twitter account for anyone who was interested.

I took the test with my students- it was the test produced for Willow Creek's Network curriculum and has roughly 8,273 questions to go through [kidding- like, 130ish... but it feels like you're taking the SAT's]. From that test, I concluded that I had the gifts of faith, mercy, and administration. Makes sense.

Then, I got the MinCo [my new, hip abbreviation for Ministry Council] test. For the sake of consistency with the rest of MinCo, I just ran through it. It's adapted from "Serving from the Heart," and it's 40-something questions. 48? I don't know. Anyway, I ended up with a six-way tie for #1 [overachiever]: encouragement, faith, knowledge, mercy, shepherding, and teaching. Sorry administration- you're out.

Now, being curious, I decided to see what the online test said. It's 21 questions and super easy to click through [plus, I don't have to do the math. Anytime I can avoid the math, I'll take it]. This test does a "primary gift" followed by a "secondary gift." It also clusters gifts into groupings- nurturing, witness, outreach, etc.- and tells you your strongest cluster... so it's a little different. I start clicking away, then hit submit, and BAM. Six gifts.

Six different gifts.

Primary: Interpretation of tongues; Secondaries: Tongues, shepherding, apostleship, wisdom, and encouragement. So basically I have 2 that cross over. Nurturing was my main cluster, too, which... duh. But let's focus for a second: these results go against what scriptures teach. You can't speak in tongues and interpret them; that can't happen. Or at least, from my understanding, that's pretty much not how those gifts work. One person speaks, another interprets. Otherwise, I could babble something, then say, "Oh, God said His favorite food is lime jello and we have to eat it at every meal," when God really didn't say that. Kara did.

I answered all of my questions honestly, but the problem with the online test was that their interpretation of "tongues" meant foreign languages and cultures, not the tongues we think of when we think "tongues in the Bible." [Although, with the amount of babbling I'm doing on here...] [also, I totally get that tongues is a legitimate gift. I've seen it, I've been a part of several moments with it- several holy moments. I'm just saying that it's not a gift I have.].

So, what'd I learn? I like to take care of people. I get that life is hard and I'm wired to dive into the mess with others, connecting them to the only One who can pull them to the surface. I know that God can and will see them through. I know that God has seen and continues to see me through. And I want to share it because it's the only way we're going to be able to survive in this world- by realizing that Christ is walking through it with us.

[And that I like to talk a lot].

Words of Wisdom

This list comes from Seth Godin's blog, which I love because he's blunt and skips the fluff in his posts. Great thoughts for today...

  • Insulate yourself from anonymous angry people
  • Expose yourself to art you don't yet understand
  • Precisely measure the results that are important to you
  • Stay blind to the metrics that don't matter
  • Fail often
  • Ship
  • Lead, don't manage so much
  • Seek out uncomfortable situations
  • Make an impact on the people who matter to you
  • Be better at your baseline skills than anyone else
  • Copyedit less, invent more
  • Give more speeches
  • Ignore unsolicited advice